In a bid to lure performance-minded shoppers facing shrinking budgets or perhaps craving a more comfortable commute than can be had in the Evolution, Mitsubishi detunes the Evolution's engine but at the same time makes it more drivable for most everyday users in the 2009 Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart. The results are impressive, but some reviews read by TheCarConnection.com lament the lack of a manual transmission option.
Peer under the scooped hood of the Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart and you'll find Mitsubishi's excellent "turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder" that ConsumerGuide claims is "similar to the powerplant found in the Evo." Unlike the Evo, however, Motor Trend says this version is "modestly defanged (say, one incisor)," and features just "a single-scroll turbocharger (instead of the twin-jobber)" that "delivers 237 horsepower at 6000 rpm" and 253 pound-feet of torque. Those numbers compare with 291 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque for the Evo. Despite the drop in output, Edmunds still reports that "power delivery is surprisingly solid throughout the rev range," thanks to the fact that "the torque curve is so broad and flat, delivering nearly the maximum 253 pound-feet from about 2,500 rpm all the way to 4,500 rpm." While that range is rather broad, Jalopnik notes that "that's pretty much the only place it's available," so try and keep the tach pegged within that 2,000-rev sweet spot. In terms of acceleration times, Edmunds testers clock the Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart with "a 14.8-second run at 94.6 mph" through the quarter-mile.
The 2009 Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart comes with just one very capable engine, which isn't much of a problem, but enthusiasts might be disappointed to learn there is only one available transmission—and it's not a manual. Automobile Magazine breaks the potentially bad news, reporting that the Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart gets "the Evo's twin-clutch, six-speed automatic transmission...albeit retuned a little." On the positive side, ConsumerGuide says that the "automated-manual transmission allows drivers to shift manually via steering-wheel paddles," but even when left in automatic mode, "the gearbox operates seamlessly." Edmunds raves that if you "put the transmission in Sport Drive mode...it'll run a real-time tutorial on how and when to shift gears." While the automatic is about as slick and effective as automatics get, some enthusiasts will still pine for a center-mounted stick shift and third pedal. The automatic sends the engine's power to all four wheels through "Mitsubishi's Active Center Differential," according to Autoblog, which notes that the AWD is a "full-time all-wheel-drive system."
Performance almost always comes at a significant price at the pump, and this definitely holds true for the 2009 Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart. According to the official EPA estimates, the Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart should return 17 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway, which ConsumerGuide says is "unexceptional for a compact car." However, the Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart's acceleration is exceptional for a compact car—just be aware that you'll pay dearly for your stoplight shenanigans.
The Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart's impressive all-wheel drive and slightly softened suspension make for an appealing combination of handling and ride comfort, according to reviews read by TheCarConnection.com. Compared to the Lancer Evolution, the Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart is "notably more relaxed," with "far less tight" on-center steering feel, but the "car still supplies more accurate feedback than the GTS," contends ConsumerGuide. Car and Driver reports that the 2009 Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart "carves a road pleasantly with well-weighted steering [and] stout brakes," although the "main limitations are body roll, a trade-off for tolerable ride, and overwhelmed 215/45 Yokohama rubber mounted on 18-inch rims." Furthermore, Motor Trend says the Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart "offers ride firmness you could probably endure for 500 miles rather than the EVO's death-by-a-billion vibrations experience." The biggest performance complaint during TheCarConnection.com's surveys of automotive experts is in regard to the brakes, which Edmunds ventures are "borrowed from the Outlander SUV" and contribute to a 60-to-0 mph stopping distance of 128 feet for the Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart. The base Lancer GTS, by contrast, stops in 118 feet, while the Evo needs just 112.